Nicosia Conference: photo exhibition on the Buffer Zone opened
On the occasion of the 5th Anniversary Conference of the 7 Most Endangered programme, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Republic of Cyprus, Ms Nathalie Jaarsma, opened an exhibition of photographs by the young Dutch photographer Roman Robroek. The exhibition opening took place on the first day of the conference, 23 October, at the Centre for Visual Arts and Research in Nicosia. The conference presented an unprecedented opportunity to share the lessons learned since the launch of the 7 Most Endangered programme in 2013 and to discuss the future steps of the programme.
On 17 September, Robroek entered the Buffer Zone at the Famagusta Gate and, accompanied by representatives from the UNFICYP, spent just two hours travelling through the streets by car, stopping to take photographs along the way. The exhibition presented a selection of 30 photographs taken that morning which best illustrate the state of the architectural heritage in the Buffer Zone.
In her address, Ambassador Jaarsma emphasised that “cultural heritage is really the glue which bonds people together and connects our past with our future. Our past determines part of our identity. Cultural heritage, the access to it and understanding of it, is pivotal for a community and its identity. That goes for Europe as a whole with a very rich history and for us Europeans.
This is certainly also valid in this city, Nicosia”. Ambassador Jaarsma underlined the success of the 7 Most Endangered programme in raising awareness of endangered cultural heritage sites in Europe and highlighted that the setting that has been chosen for the conference, the Centre of Visual Arts and Research, as well the dedication of a whole session of the conference to this particular endangered site shows the “dedication and unwavering support for Cypriots” by Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute.
Ambassador Jaarsma also expressed her admiration for Roman Robroek’s photographs: “He has taken impressive photos of the Buffer Zone which I am sure will help all today’s participants and other visitors appreciate the importance of this strip of land for the future revitalisation of this beautiful capital and at the same time recognize their imminent threat of collapse or further deterioration”.
Ms Nathalie Jaarsma thanked the conference hosts and offered a special gift from The Netherlands to the Director of the Centre of Visual Arts and Research, Dr. Rita Severis.
A more extensive collection of Roman Robroek’s photos from the Buffer Zone and his own account of his visit can be accessed on his website.
Roman Robroek is an award-winning, 31-year-old photographer. Robroek shoots unique photos of undisclosed abandoned places. A fascination with empty buildings and the stories behind them has led to his impressive portfolio of photographs from numerous locations across Europe. With great respect for his surroundings, Robroek is careful to not disrupt these abandoned places and leaves no trace of his exploration.
Since 2012, he has photographed several sites which have appeared on the shortlists and final lists of the 7 Most Endangered programme, sometimes coincidentally and since the beginning of 2018, at the request of and in cooperation with Europa Nostra. These latter sites include the Citadel of Alessandria, Italy (listed in 2014), the Castle of Sammezzano, Italy (shortlisted in 2018), and, most recently, the Buffer Zone in the Historic Centre of Nicosia, Cyprus (listed in 2013).